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Archive for Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Subdivision plans cause some division

October 12, 2005

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Parts of rural Douglas County will someday look a lot more like the city. But the locations for new subdivisions remained up for debate Tuesday, following a discussion of development regulations by the County Commission.

"We may not be in agreement at this point, but this has been a good discussion," Commissioner Jere McElhaney said.

Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department staff members have been revising the regulations, under commission direction, to prevent new construction in areas that lack treated water and hardtop roads.

Commissioners began reviewing the updated draft on Monday and continued their discussion on Tuesday, but disagreements remained.

Commission Chairman Charles Jones, for example, wanted to designate areas approved for subdivisions. But Commissioner Bob Johnson would prefer a checklist of items required - such as water and roads - for construction to take place. McElhaney wanted to draw a line through the county that would show where subdivisions were and were not allowed.

Under the draft, residential development within the urban growth area may happen on a tract of land as small as 3 acres; residential properties would be required to have access to rural water lines. The regulations also propose that on 20 acres of land, 40 percent must be permanent common open space - with the remaining 60 percent divided into 3-acre lots for residential development.

For land outside the urban growth area, the proposal allows that a 20-acre parcel could be divided twice to create three different sections. However, commissioners have been debating whether the county should allow building permits to be issued for all three sections when the 20 acres are split up.

"If we have three parcels of land and only allow two building permits, I'm afraid we'll have created unusable land," Johnson said.

No vote is expected soon on the proposal. Commissioners say they expect to hold public hearings on the matter, but the hearings have not been scheduled.

Commissioners will continue discussing the matter of subdivisions and other rural regulations issues at 5 p.m. tonight at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Mass.

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